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Coordinates: 33°01′23″N 114°36′40″W / 33.02306°N 114.61111°W / 33.02306; -114.61111

—  Unincorporated community  —
Picacho is located in California
Location in California
Coordinates: 33°01′23″N 114°36′40″W / 33.02306°N 114.61111°W / 33.02306; -114.61111
Country United States
State California
County Imperial County
Elevation [1] 203 ft (62 m)

Picacho is an unincorporated community in Imperial County, California.[1] It is located on the Colorado River 29 miles (47 km) south-southeast of Palo Verde,[2] at an elevation of 203 feet (62 m).[1]

Picacho, now a ghost town, was an early mining town on the Colorado River. It was named Picacho (Spanish for "big peak") after a nearby mountain of the same name.

The original townsite itself is beneath Imperial Reservoir, but remains of some of the ore mills are above the lake level. The area is within Picacho State Recreation Area.[3]



Remains of the old ore processing mill overlook the Colorado River.

Spaniards probably mined placer gold in the area as early as 1780.[4] The area became very active when prospector Jose Maria Mendivil discovered gold veins in the nearby hills in the early 1860s. Mendivil laid out the townsite of Rio, which was soon renamed Picacho. The town had a population of 2,500, three stores, three elementary schools, numerous saloons, and was served by steamboats that connected the mining towns along the Colorado River. The gold mines closed by around 1910, and the filling of the lake behind Imperial Dam flooded what was left of the original townsite in 1938.

A post office operated at Picacho from 1894 to 1926, moving in 1896.[2]


The townsite is at 33°01′23″N 114°36′40″W / 33.02306°N 114.61111°W / 33.02306; -114.61111, at an elevation of 203 feet (62 m) above sea level.

Picacho in fiction

Picacho was the setting of Zane Grey’s 1923 novel Wanderer of the Wasteland, later made into a silent film.


  1. ^ a b c U.S. Geological Survey Geographical Names Information System: Picacho, California
  2. ^ a b Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Quill Driver Books. p. 1454. ISBN 9781884995149.  
  3. ^ Picacho State Recreation Area
  4. ^ William B. Clark (1970) Gold Districts of California, California Division of Mines and Geology, Bulletin 193, p.162.

See also

List of ghost towns in California

External links



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